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I was cackling in the Star Wars arcade game while the poor souls in the United Club were scrounging for crackers.
Status with the 3 major airline alliances opens up a world of partner airline lounges. Generally speaking, if you have qualifying status for that type of lounge, you can access any of that alliance’s lounges regardless which airline you are flying, as long as you are flying one alliance member airline same-day departure.
It is not always easy. In Brisbane last weekend it took some gentle reminders at the Singapore lounge that my Star Alliance Gold status granted me access to it and its store of Tim Tams. While I won’t go into the lengths it took to get in JFK’s Alitalia lounge (instead of Korean) on an Aeroflot flight. All that for fizzy Italian drinks.
This is not true for premium cabin travel without alliance status, for which you are limited to the lounge your operating airline has a contract.
When I arrived in Tokyo-Narita I first happened on the United Club. I took a spin for curiosity. It is the best United Club I have seen (yes, not saying much), with elegant design. Hot food options are limited to soup and something that was out of stock. There is sushi are a few other actual food options, though mostly snacks. Since Delta has let the once-great NWA World Clubs at Narita wither, I give United the edge.
The lounge is huge though was quite heavily occupied. I wondered how many people had Star Alliance Gold status from United or whoever and had no idea there are other options.
Just down the hall and down an escalator is the ANA Lounge. Walking in I saw the Star Wars arcade game. Seeing my face light up, the reception agent held out a token, saying “Do you want to play?” It was not the only token I consumed.
Here are some other features of the lounge:
- Sake bar
- Noodle bar
- Extensive buffet
- Bathrooms with Japanese washlet toilets
- Showers with Shiseido amenities (now I have lug those all the way back to my waiting wife)
- Rest area with massage chairs
Yeah, I did leave Star Wars long enough to experience most of those. The lounge was then empty though filled up more as evening departures approached.
I give United credit for a non-grotty lounge, however don’t expect to see me there on any NRT layover!
(Sidebar: the ANA business lounge is vastly superior to the ho-hum JAL business lounge. I don’t know about first class for either.)